100 Popular Bulgarian Names For Boys And Girls

Original blog post: https://ling-app.com/bg/bulgarian-names/

Like in any unique culture, some names within the Bulgarian society are more common than others. If you’re familiar with the people of Bulgaria, you will discover how names like Ivan, Stefan, and Nikolay are very popular among males. At the same time, Elena, Ivanka, and Maria are also some of the most famous female names in Bulgaria. Let’s take a closer look and see the full list of some common Bulgarian names.

History Of Bulgarian Names

In general, Bulgaria has been a melting pot as its citizens are descended from people of multiple ethnicities and origins.

Today, most modern Bulgarian people are successors of the ancient Bulgars, Thracians, and Slavs origin. The culture is also heavily revolved around Greek, Persian, and Ottoman influences.

Bulgaria is an East European country surrounded by Turkey, Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, and Greece. The people of Bulgaria speak the South Slavic language, which is said to be mutually intelligible with the Macedonian language.

Bulgarian Naming System

The are several layers to explore when it comes to Bulgarian names.

Of course, the naming conventions among Bulgarians today have changed from the ways of the old days. Fundamentally, Bulgarian names are gender-based. You’ll see later in the examples that it’s pretty easy to distinguish between a male and a female name.

Traditionally, there were a few traditions that the ancient civilization of Bulgaria practiced:

1. Naming A Male Newborn After His Father’s Father

Up until today, this tradition is quite common among Bulgarians (though it might not necessarily be practiced). This is definitely the traditional way a child is named in Bulgaria. Some people may follow this custom, while some may not.

To be specific, Bulgarians name their male newborn after the father’s father, the grandfather. What if the newborn is a girl? Yes, she is named after the grandmother.

Correspondingly, the second child will be usually named after the mother’s parents. What’s the logic behind this tradition? It’s to display how a child belongs to his father and how his father belongs to his father (the grandfather). This, in a way, entails how the Bulgarian community traces its legacy. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Here’s How This Naming Tradition Works:

In Bulgarian names, there is a particular suffix at the end, signifying possession (like the English ‘s). Let’s see these suffixes and how they work.

Most Bulgarian male surnames have an -ov suffix, a tradition practiced mostly by Eastern Slavic societies, particularly those from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.

  • -ov and -ev are both masculine suffixes
    e.g.: Apostol => Apostolov Vladimir => Vladimirov
  • It’s a gender-agreeing suffix
  • It indicates possession
  • Apostolov can be literally translated as Apostol’s

Alternatively, the feminine form of -ov suffix is -ova:

  • -ova and -eva are feminine suffixes
    e.g.: Apostol => Apostolova Vladimir => Vladimirova

Clearly, this is how a part of the Bulgarian legacy is built — by adding the suffixes at the back of the newborns’ names. This indicates how the child belongs to the father and family.
Then again, traditions could vary according to the region, and they’re often not followed anymore.

2. Naming A Newborn After Its Parents

I’ve also discovered the fact that some Bulgarian parents name their children after themselves, which is quite unique and interesting.
As a matter of fact, this is an uncommon practice (unlike the first one). Typically, the custom is to name the firstborn after the father’s parents, not after the father himself.
However, these methods are not fixed as each region may exercise different naming standards and conventions. It all depends on one’s geography or cultural background.

3. Naming A Newborn After The Nearest Holiday To Its Birthdate

This is another distinctive custom in naming children in Bulgaria. In general, some people are named after the nearest holiday to his birthdate, so you will see many Bulgarian names that sound like a festivity.

For example, if someone was born prior to (or closely after) St. George’s Day, there’s a really high chance that the newborn will be named Georgi (for male) or Gergana (for female).

Alternatively, Bulgarian parents may be inspired by wishful names. These names hold positive connotations such as good health and life (like Zdravko or Stoyan). Still, although this tradition is particularly unique, only a few people would actually consider and stick to it.

50 Male Bulgarian Names And Meanings

Let’s see some most popular Bulgarian names for boys.

50 Female Bulgarian Names And Meanings

Names Of Notable Bulgarians

How Bulgarians Today Name Their Children?

All in all, although some very unique naming conventions exist within the Bulgarian community and culture, not everyone decides to stick to the old-fashioned way. To certain extents, the customs and traditions may only apply to certain Bulgarians.

Like anywhere else in the world, we do have a modern take on Bulgarian naming conventions. Rather than naming the child after the grandparent’s full given name, the child only inherits the first letter. It’s called the first-letter rule.

Hence, the granddaughter of Petya might become Poli or Polina. Clearly, the first letter P from the grandparent is maintained. Another contemporary way of naming children in Bulgaria is by adopting any popular Western-sounding names, such as Martin, Alexander, Victor, Maria, and Sofia.

Learn Bulgarian Today!

From some of the most famous Bulgarian names today, we can see how the culture of Bulgaria is deeply interlaced with the rich culture of its neighboring countries. This blog can also be the perfect list of baby names, which can be what you’re looking for.

It’s also very interesting to see how Bulgarians really want to preserve their cultural heritage. This intention then translates into their unique naming convention. It’s beautiful and inspiring.

Always want to learn Bulgarian? Start now. It is truly simple — start with saying hello and thank you. Then enrich your vocabulary and speech with Ling, which is free for everyone.



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